Ford has revealed four new Fiesta derivatives - Active, Vignale, ST-Line and Titanium and could roll out similarly inspired versions of other models
Matt Burt
30 November 2016

The four distinct versions of the new Ford Fiesta serve as an indication of how far Ford can diversify its big-selling small car, says European boss Jim Farley, and if the strategy proves successful, other models in Ford’s range could benefit from it.

At Tuesday’s launch of the new Fiesta in Cologne, four production variants were revealed: Vignale, Titanium, ST-Line and Active. The expanded line-up is intended to add emotional appeal to the model, push the Fiesta gently upmarket and reinforce the brand’s B-segment offerings under a growing threat from premium car makers entering the category.

Titanium is aimed at traditional Fiesta buyers, albeit with a high-spec to take into account for the fact that the recently revealed Ka+ has slotted in to the range as an option for customers who might have previously considered a lower-spec Fiesta. ST-Line, inspired by Ford Performance, is the sporting offering that is also part of Ford’s “heart and soul”, as Farley puts it.

But it is the other two offerings, Active and Vignale, that represent the more radical diversions from the traditional Fiesta blueprint.

Farley said that he is particularly intrigued at how the market would receive Fiesta Active “because it is something very new. I can think of a lot of places in the UK and in southern Europe where it will make sense for people – they want the SUV look and the higher ride height for driving and ground clearance”.

Such customers, he said, didn’t want a full SUV because “it is expensive, doesn’t have great fuel efficiency, they’re heavier vehicles”.

Farley wouldn’t rule out other models in Ford’s range being given an Active makeover, describing Fiesta Active as ‘step one’ in the strategy: “We’re putting our shoulder into the Fiesta Active and we’re really trying to understand the customer, knowing what they visually want visually and in terms of functionality, and I do think that we will continue to look at this.”

Further Fiesta variants could also be possible if the new line-up succeeds. “I can see some people saying ‘I’d like a combination of ST-Line and Active’,” said Farley.

He dismissed any suggestion that the Fiesta Active could impinge upon sales of the Ford Ecosport, which endured a troubled birth in Europe but is said to be selling more positively now. “There’s no competition between those products - they are quite different”.

Fiesta Vignale variant benefits from a high-spec makeover from Ford’s luxury sub-brand and follows in the footsteps of the posh Vignale-badged versions of the Mondeo, S-Max and Edge.

Farley was confident there is scope for a B-segment car such as the Fiesta to benefit from the high-end and more expensive treatment, which will also come with a raft of after-sales benefits offered by Ford’s larger Vignale models.

“We can do it in scale now because we have Vignale on [other models] so a dealer can really invest money into it,” he said. “We’ve seen it grow now on Mondeo, where it is now close to 10% of the overall sales and on S-Max it is above 10%.” He wouldn’t be drawn on what percentage of Fiesta sales the Vignale derivative might account for, but said: “We have a lot of work between now and next summer to offer Vignale on a Fiesta.”

Farley said the company had proof that customers were open to the prospect of more expensive, well-appointed Ford models due to the number who chose high-spec Titanium trim from the across the wider Ford line-up: “We have customers who want more. When you look at our mix of Titanium in the UK, it is basically becoming our volume model. For example, 70% of the Kugas we sell are Titanium. We have to give people more choice than to have a Titanium.”

The overarching goal, said Farley, was to offer an alternative to premium brands at a more competitive price.

“We knew we had to make the brand more emotional. We can that with Mustang, but how do we do it with Fiesta? Active, Vignale and ST-Line are ways to do that. We want that pride of ownership that people have with a premium brand, but we can give it to them at a lower price. We just have to execute it in a way that gives people more choice,” he said.

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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Comments
10

30 November 2016
The comment from Farley that the active model is something 'very new' obviously doesn't take into account the Rover 25 streetwise from 2003...

30 November 2016
Was thinking the same thing, you beat me to it! Rover was the first to do a soft-roader, with VW quickly copying with the 'Dune' polo and Citroen followed too.

I had a Streetwise, aside from the bad name it was a really great car...Rover made some of the best seats available in any small car (better than most available in any small car today) and it was well made & reliable. The slight increase in ride height made for a better ride and easy to deal with sleeping policemen. It will be interesting to see if it works for Ford 13 years later.

Paul Brighton.

30 November 2016
keeforelli wrote:

...doesn't take into account the Rover 25 streetwise from 2003...

Arguably the VW Golf Synchro and Country and the Panda 4x4 were the original instigators, both having the look but also the functionality. The A6 allroad also arguably revisited the look before the Rover.

30 November 2016
The comment from Farley that the active model is something 'very new' obviously doesn't take into account the Rover 25 streetwise from 2003...

30 November 2016
Polo Dune?

30 November 2016
keeforelli wrote:

The comment from Farley that the active model is something 'very new' obviously doesn't take into account the Rover 25 streetwise from 2003...

Highline2.0 wrote:

Polo Dune?

Let's not forget also the currently on sale Hyundai i20 Active, which shares the same concept AND name. It isn't new to Ford either, they tried selling a " rugged " Focus X Road a couple of years ago, but times have changed.
Maybe he meant that it was new to the Fiesta. It looks better to my eyes than either the regular Titanium or the ST Line anyway.

 

 

30 November 2016
Have I missed something, in what way is the Active an alternative to a Small SUV like a 4 wheel drive Vitara. In what way is the Active different from a ST-Line? Taller, easier to get into with bigger door openings, 4 wheel drive option, skid plate?
Ford are really failing to excite at the moment.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

30 November 2016
xxxx wrote:

Have I missed something, in what way is the Active an alternative to a Small SUV like a 4 wheel drive Vitara. In what way is the Active different from a ST-Line? Taller, easier to get into with bigger door openings, 4 wheel drive option, skid plate?
Ford are really failing to excite at the moment.

Er...they tried that before, with the Fusion "Urban Activity Vehicle" intended to appeal to sporty twenty-somethings. Unfortunately, pensioners loved the higher seating position, which was its only advantage over the Fiesta, and its goose was cooked.

30 November 2016
A lot of people are now done with black... if Ford is to compete with VW (UP + others) and Fiat 500 buyers (spanning £10k to £18k list prices) and the so called "premium" German brands they need to address the lack of colour choice for interior trim... and not just for Vignale models

Years ago you could buy diverse Capri variants and still choose a shade of interior trim that complimented the exterior paint choice, or just something you fancied... more recently the late nineties Fiesta had 6 dashboard colours and various seat colours to match... time not to "go back to black" or any one of the "50 shades of grey" that have become so boring and funeral inside so many inspiringly exterior coloured cars...

30 November 2016
The Fiesta Active is nothing new considering VW group are doing that anyway with the Seat Leon etc.

Just curious on how experimental they will be with trim levels etc on both the fiesta and the entire Ford range (have images of a Ford Mustang Active)

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